Using regulatory focus to explore implicit and explicit processing in concept learning

Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 9-10):132-155 (2007)
Complex cognitive processes like concept learning involve a mixture of redundant explicit and implicit processes that are active simultaneously. This aspect of cognitive architecture creates difficulties in determining the influence of consciousness on processing. We propose that the interaction between an individual's regulatory focus and the reward structure of the current task influences the degree to which explicit processing is active. Thus, by manipulating people's motivational state and the nature of the task they perform, we can vary the influence of conscious processing in cognitive performance. We demonstrate the utility of this view by focusing on studies in which people acquire new perceptual concepts by learning to classify them. This technique will allow us to better tease apart the roles of explicit and implicit processing in a variety of cognitive tasks.
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